Kale, Coconut & Tofu

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A few years ago, the hubby and I, on a whim, joined a CSA at a farmer’s market.  It was during the summer and the thought of getting farmer’s market fresh fruits and vegetables delivered to my apartment every week just made me giddy.  There is something intoxicating about being at a farmer’s market, walking from booth to booth checking out fresh produce, fruit, flowers, honey, home baked goods, etc.  It just sends me to a happy place.  If someone could box up that happiness, and have it waiting for me on my doorstep weekly when I got home from work, I was in.

When the shipments started showing up, I loved getting my weekly fix of fragrant basil, fresh picked peaches, juicy tomatoes and whatever else happened to be in season.  But as the air grew cooler, so did the variety in my CSA box, until weekly I came home to a box full of kale, chard and cabbage.

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Before moving out to the west coast, I think I can probably count on one hand the amount of times I had had kale or chard.  I probably could not have told you the difference between them, let alone how to cook them.  I also had no idea what to cook with cabbage, aside from cole slaw or stuffed cabbage, and to be honest, still have no idea, but that is another post.

The hubby threw down an ultimatum, it was either let the CSA box go or start getting creative in the kitchen. He could not deal with another week of rotting leafy green vegetables in the refridgerator, and to be honest, neither could I.  Remembering those first summer shipments, and daydreaming about what those spring boxes could bring, I decided it was time to get creative.  It was then that I discovered our go-to household dinner – kale, coconut and tofu.

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This recipe literally kept my husband and I fed weekly during the early months of parenthood.  I have made it so many times that it is now memorized and perfected.  Not only is it super easy to make but it is beyond delicious.

We have long given up the CSA boxes but I still find myself buying kale at the market every other week so the hubby and I can get our Kale, Coconut and Tofu dinner fix.

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Kale, Coconut and Tofu

Serves 2

2 cups of cooked brown rice (I use the frozen rice for Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s)

1 bunch of kale

1/2 cup of shredded unsweetened coconut

8oz of extra firm tofu, drained, dried and cut into 1 inch cubes

1/3 cup of olive oil

2 tbsp of soy sauce

1 tsp of toasted sesame oil

Preheat oven to 350 and place the racks in the top and bottom 1/3 of the oven.

Rinse and dry the kale.  Remove the kale leaves from the stems and tear into 2 to 3 inch pieces (like you would for making kale chips).  Place in a large bowl.  Add the coconut and tofu.

In a separate smaller bowl whisk together the olive oil, soy sauce and toasted sesame oil.

Pour 2/3 of the olive oil mixture over the kale, coconut and tofu and toss.  Set the remaining 1/3 of the olive oil mixture aside.

Spread the kale, coconut and tofu mixture across two cookie sheets and place in the oven for 20 minutes, making sure to rotate the cookie sheets and mix the ingredients half way through.  (I also switch which rack the sheets are on due to heating differentials in my oven.)

When finished cooking, the tofu should be browned and the kale leaves crispy (depending on your oven it might be longer or shorter).  Remove the kale, coconut and tofu from the cookie sheets and place back in the large mixing bowl, toss with the remaining olive oil mixture and serve immediately in individual bowls over a cup of brown rice.

Adapted from Food and Wine magazine’s Kale, Coconut & Tofu

Fall Minestrone with Kale and Butternut Squash

Winter is definitely a week away. In fact I might argue that winter showed up in San Francisco early. As the hubby and I strolled through Hayes Valley yesterday killing time between brunch and the ballet I asked “When did this neighborhood become so New York City?”

I am not sure if the hipster residents of Hayes Valley would love that I compared their neighborhood to NYC but I am not sure if it was more the neighborhood or the weather. Overcast gray skies, chilly air, and fallen leaves reminded me so much of home. It even reminded my hubby of my home.

To make my new (I use the term very loosely) home feel a bit more like my old home I’ve started searching for recipes that warm your bones and make your apartment (or house) smell like a delicious home cooked meal. When I stumbled on a recipe for minestrone with kale and butternut squash I simply had to try it. Plus I needed to find a use for that butternut squash sitting on my counter.

One of my favorite soups as a kid was minestrone. The brand of choice was Progresso. But Progresso has nothing on this delicious soup. I have to admit I was a bit daunted by the task – cooking beans from scratch and so much chopping but when I really broke it down it wasn’t so bad! Yes cooking beans from scratch does take a bit of planning ahead and chopping is probably one of my least favorite activities, but get yourself a food processor and you are good to go!

Not only was the soup beyond delish, it also made my apartment smell like a home. There was nothing better than curling up on my couch with my hubby, a blanket and a bowl of yummy soup. Despite the work that went into this, I will definitely make it again. In fact, I might use the other butternut squash sitting on my counter to make another batch.

Fall Minestrone with Kale and Butternut Squash (adapted from Alice Waters’ The Art of Simple Food) 

1 cup dried cannellini beans (see instructions below to prepare)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped

2 celery stalks finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1/2 tsp chopped rosemary

1 tsp chopped sage

2 tsps of salt

1 bunch of kale, stemmed, washed, and chopped

1 15oz can of diced tomatoes, drained

3 cups of water

1 small leek, diced

1/2 butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (about 2 cups)

1 cup bean cooking liquid

Heat olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery and cook to a rich golden brown.

Add garlic, rosemary, sage, salt, kale, and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes.

Add water and bring to a boil.

Add the leeks and cook for 15 minutes.

Add the squash and continue to cook until tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the cooked beans and bean liquid. Cook for 5 minutes. If the soup is too thick add more bean cooking liquid.

Serve in bowls with olive oil and grated Parmesan cheese.

Soaking and Cooking Beans

1 cup of dried cannellini beans

Soak the cannellini beans over night in water, ensure that there is three times as much water as there are beans. Drain after soaking and use fresh water for cooking them.

In a wide non-reactive pot (I used my le creuset) add the beans and enough water so that they are covered by more than an inch. Bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat and skim off any foam. Simmer gently for 1 hour or so. Test the beans by biting into one to ensure that they are cooked.

When done let them cool in the water before draining so as not to crack the skin. Make sure to save some of the water.